BDG Architects has partnered with several developers over the years to design and adapt retail spaces for the modern era. We are excited to reimagine the possibilities of traditional mall anchors with RD Management and transform University Mall into the innovative new “Uptown.”
Tampa Bay Times
TAMPA — The University Mall isn’t bustling on weekday afternoons. But it’s not deserted, either.
A line eight-people deep waits at the BBQ counter in the food court. Children jump on inflatable trampolines in front of the Dillard’s clearance store; shoppers browse racks at Burlington.
In the early 1970s, the Tampa mall was the place to be, but it hasn’t been that way for decades. Nearly every major anchor store has left, leaving thousands of square feet of empty retail boxes — the latest being Sears, which announced last month it would close by November.
That was good news for RD Management, the New York firm that bought the struggling mall near the University of South Florida’s main campus just under four years ago. The project’s chief development strategist, Chris Bowen, has had ideas percolating for the Sears space — and none were for it to remain a retail chain.
“Malls are going away,” he said. “What we are creating is the future.”
The next anchors at the 100-acre property will be research institutes and dynamic office and co-working spaces, he said while sitting in a jewelry store he outfitted to be a sleek conference room inside the mall he plans to make a “research village.”
“University Mall has a lot of good bones to it, good structure,” said BDG architect Deighton Babis, who is working with RD on the Uptown project. “Tearing down and scraping doesn’t make sense anymore when there’s so much of the mall that can be reused.”